The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today interrupted their tour of Australia to send a heartfelt message of sympathy to the Duchess of Cornwall following the death of her brother Mark Shand in New York.
Police today smashed a “fake Californian gold” fraud racket being run from offices in the heart of the Square Mile.
Father pips son in Johnson clan race to the polls
02 April 2012
Forget the mayoral election for a moment. There is another more imminent contest involving Boris’s father Stanley, who is a candidate to become a trustee of the London Zoological Society.
The ballot among 2,500 members of the LZS takes place on April 16. Three new members are required for a fouryear term.
Stanley is well qualified for the job having launched his book, Survival, Saving Endangered Migratory Species, at London Zoo’s Regent’s Park HQ two years ago. He has just finished another book, Where the Wild Things Were, to be published by Stacey International in June. He also drafted the EU’s Zoos Directive on caring for wild animals in captivity.
“Look, I’m not allowed to canvass for this position but I can confirm I am a candidate,” he told me this morning. “London Zoo is one of the major forces for conservation in the world, active in 50 countries in South America, Africa and Australia.”
Stanley has travelled all over the world in his efforts to conserve wild animals, cuddling gorillas and climbing Kilimanjaro.
Will Travers, chief executive officer of the Born Free Foundation and son of actress Virginia McKenna, today launches a campaign saying much more must be done to enforce standards in British zoos.
“I’m with Will Travers completely on this one,” says Stanley.
Robert Lacey is the keeper of those royal revelations
A handful of revelations emerged from a talk by royal author Robert Lacey about his new book, A Brief Life of the Queen, at St Peter’s Church in Eaton Square.
Lacey is well versed in the subject having written a biography of Her Majesty to mark her Silver Jubilee. He was also involved in the making of the 1969 Royal Family film, which was viewed around the world. The palace has since banned it.
“There are 40 hours of film which have never been seen,” he tells me. “They are stored in a BBC vault under the heading ‘religious programming’.”
Lacey thinks the extra footage is unlikely ever to emerge, and is equally convinced that the Queen will never agree to be interviewed, especially following Alan Titchmarsh’s ITV interview with the Duke of Edinburgh, who showed the presenter “utter contempt”.
Lacey’s final revelation was that the Queen favours the Coalition, which she thinks is a good idea.
“I’m glad Princess Michael is not here to contradict me,” Lacey added, recalling a recent event — which the Londoner reported — when the Princess had interrupted proceedings to announce that the royal family hated The King’s Speech and refused to watch it because it omitted the role of Sir Louis Greig in the life of George VI.
Irons junior’s reality check from dad
Since first appearing on our screens as Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisted, Jeremy Irons has enjoyed a long, remunerative career. The veteran actor has issued a stark warning to his son, however, actor and Burberry model Max, pictured.“The business now tends to want pretty young people and uses them up and spits them out if they can’t do it,” Irons senior tells me. “It used to happen to a small extent to girls when I started. But it didn’t happen to guys like it does now.
“Obviously, if Max wants advice, he’ll get it from me. But he’s going to have to find out the reality of this job for himself.”
A Titan’s work is never done
Liam Neeson and his girlfriend Freya St Johnston enjoyed a night out at Scott’s in Mayfair over the weekend. The pair have known each other for more than 10 years and started a relationship following the death of Neeson’s wife Natasha Richardson after a tragic skiing accident in 2009. Neeson plays Zeus in Wrath of the Titans, which premiered at the BFI IMAX last week.
Boris findshis pink side
Boris Johnson confesses in an interview with Attitude magazine that he causes embarrassment to his managers on Gay Pride marches. “It’s perfectly true that I was told not to wear a pink stetson by my able image managers but I did,” he says. “There were some chaps with very little on, except tattoos, hovering around, and there was a certain amount of panicking among my press officers.”
Perhaps Brian Paddick’s press officers should be panicking after his interview in the same issue. “I know lots of people who go to gay clubs and live off vodka and Red Bull,” says Paddick. “Vodka, Red Bull and a double espresso and I’m off dancing. It’s wrong to stereotype the gay club scene in London as a drugs fest.”
All is so rosy now for George
Friday was a doubly joyful day for George Galloway. Not only did he win his by-election but his book, Open Season: The Neil Lennon Story, received a boost when two men were convicted of assault for sending bullets and parcel bombs to Celtic FC manager Lennon and two other individuals. The book “explores the history of Scotland’s shame, anti-Irish Catholic racism and bigotry”, as Galloway’s page on Facebook explains. He does not undersell himself either: “Sparing no reputation, no hallowed institution, Galloway holds a mirror up to the political cowardice, opportunism and prejudice that is as entrenched in Scotland’s culture today as it was over 100 years ago.”
*A revelatory heckle at the Stonewall Awards dinner. “The truth is that all marriages are same sex marriages,” quipped Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill. “You get married, then every other night for the rest of your life you have the same sex.” Cue this risposte from Speaker’s wife Sally Bercow, who was in the audience: “If you’re lucky”.
Goldman’s must at last give way to God
The public may consider Goldman Sachs to be the unacceptable face of international finance — or a vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity — but leading architects are falling over each other to design the new European HQ in London for the blokes who “do God’s work”.
Goldman Sachs plans to build a new office on Farringdon Street and move staff in from a series of offices elsewhere in the City. Building Design magazine today reveals that New York practice Pei Cobb Freed has joined Fosters and KPF on the shortlist. I M Pei, who is in his nineties, designed the famous pyramid at the entrance to the Louvre in Paris and the Bank of China skyscraper in Hong Kong. But apart from towers at Canary Wharf, his impact on London has so far been minimal.
But there is bad news for phallic symbols: any new building in this location would have to be limited to 15 storeys to avoid blocking views of nearby St Paul’s Cathedral.
*An opportunity wasted. Labour peer Joan Bakewell interviews Lib-Dem peer Shirley Williams tonight in the return of the Radio 3 series, Belief. She allows Williams, Labour’s education secretary in the Seventies, to praise comprehensive schools without asking her why she did not see fit to send her own daughter Rebecca to one, instead choosing Godolphin & Latymer, one of London’s best selective schools.
Hell raising and liquid lunches
Soho club Black’s, in Dean Street, celebrated its 20th anniversary last night, with a party hosted by one of its founding managers, Tom Bantock. His older brother Boots recited a poem about Bantock’s eccentric career (“And he lived for the raising of hell”). Club act Sister Chain and Brother John flew in from Germany to perform a song they had written for the occasion, “Bantock, You’re A Cad”.
Bantock held court from an armchair, resembling the vampire Nosferatu. The reason for his immobility is that a year ago he was mugged by teenagers in Berlin. Broken ribs pierced each of his lungs. Ever hopeful that he might find a lung transplant, he has switched from three bottles of port a day to three bottles of medium sherry.
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